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Measles-Mumps-Rubella Shots Under Fire at Autism Hearing

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Wakefield says the IOM panel requested information on his observations in a closed session, but it didn't wind up in the final report. At the time, his latest studies were still being reviewed for scientific publication, so he couldn't present them in public. When asked at the hearing if the MMR vaccine is as safe as it can get, he responded, "No, absolutely, not."

But Wakefield was contradicted by another English scientist, Elizabeth Miller, MD, head of that country's Public Health Laboratory Service. Her studies show there has not been an increase of such problems in the U.K. since the vaccine was introduced there.

"I don't think it would be profitable to hijack the research agenda to concentrate on answering [Wakefield's] question, which is derived basically from speculation ... and ... unpublished evidence," she says.

Burton raised additional concerns that some of the information clearing the vaccine in the IOM report came from Merck, the product's manufacturer.

During the hearing, several physicians whose children have autism told the committee about their ordeal. One of them is Sharon Humiston, MD. A former immunization scientist for the U.S. government, she says she doesn't believe that the MMR vaccine was responsible for her son Quinn's disease. But she's desperately looking for answers, particularly to one heartbreaking question.

"What is going to happen to Quinn after [my husband and I] die? What are we going to do now to help?" she asked tearfully.

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